"Copyright is fundamental to creative industries, those who believe it's not relevant are mistaken"
I find that interesting on a few levels. And by "interesting" I mean "bullshit."
-- J.A. Konrath
Konrath is an author who escaped the midlist wilderness of traditional publishing to do extremely well for himself (to the tune of about $3,000 a day) by self-publishing on Amazon. As you may expect, he's become an advocate for self-publishing and a strong critic of the traditional model and those who defend it. His quote above is in response to a tweet by the U.K'.s Publishers Association from the London Book Fair.
While Konrath is talking specifically about the business of prose books, his thoughts on copyright and fair use apply to comics as well. The comics community is divided on the subject, so Konrath (who's been known to attend a comics convention or two, so he's no stranger to our side of things either) offers some further points to consider. "My readers should be able to do anything they want to with my work," he writes, "whether they bought it or obtained it freely. Once I create something, it takes on a life of its own. It exists independent of me. In fact, as I've said many times this past decade, the book does not exist as words on a page. It exists as a story in the reader's head. And I have no claims on that, monetary or otherwise."
He's not talking about the freedom to exploit him for financial gain though. He continues, "If you do want to use my work to make money for yourself, I think it is fair to include me somehow, by negotiating for the rights to do so. But if you want to use my work for anything else, enjoy yourself."
The article is full of quotable bits, so check it out for more detail and clarification on his points. While I don't think it's fair to tell another creator how to feel about the sharing of his or her work (not that Konrath is doing that), it's a thought-provoking perspective. "The world is becoming digital," he writes. "Human beings are born to share. Information wants to be free."